New York Soccer: Ryan Cochrane

W2W4: NY Red Bulls at NE Revolution

August, 20, 2011
Two original MLS sides renew old rivalries this weekend as the New York Red Bulls ship up to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts to face the New England Revolution on Saturday. New York claimed a rare victory in the first leg of their regular season encounters against New England at Red Bull Arena on June 10 after Thierry Henry deflected a shot off Revs defender Ryan Cochrane for an own goal and followed it with the game winner.

Wins have been hard to come by for a Red Bulls side that settled for a 2-2 draw against the rebuilding Chicago Fire last weekend at Red Bull Arena. Henry and Joel Lindpere had the first and last words respectively on the score sheet, but defensive miscues and poor communication allowed Ghanian forward Dominic Oduro and Argentinean midfielder Sebastian Grazzini to tally a first-half lead and leave New York chasing a draw rather than a much-needed win.

New England comes into Saturday's match with tired legs and spirits low after a stoppage-time strike by Bobby Boswell stole a draw for the visiting Houston Dynamo at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. Despite an early Cochrane goal, the Revs played most of the match on the defensive as the Dynamo controlled the run of play for most of the match and tripled New England's shots on goal before Boswell netted the equalizer.

A D.C. United (7-6-10, 31 pts) draw on Thursday leaves New York (6-6-13, 31 pts) in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and with a tenuous grip on a postseason wild card berth. Houston (7-7-11, 32 pts) stands between the Red Bulls and third-place Sporting Kansas City (8-7-9, 33 pts) for an automatic playoff spot, while the Columbus Crew (10-7-7, 37 pts) and Philadelphia Union (8-5-10, 34 pts) face each other this weekend to establish Eastern Conference supremacy.

'Keep Out. New England will kick off against a potent Red Bulls attack this weekend without longtime 'keeper Matt Reis. Reis received a red card in Wednesday's match against the Dynamo during a stoppage-time scrum for what referee Michael Kennedy described as "use of offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures."

Bobby Shuttleworth will replace the suspended Reis on Saturday, but the 24-year-old shot stopper hasn't started a game since April and isn't heading into the match on the heels of one of the best goalkeeping performances of the season like Reis would have been before getting the heave-ho. If New York can continue the offensive momentum it created against Chicago, it could be a long night for the Revs' backup 'keeper.

Key Matchup: Marquez vs. Feilhaber. While Tim Ream and Roy Miller had the unfortunately distinction of being on camera when the Fire exposed their dysfunctional defensive efforts last Saturday, that did not leave Rafael Marquez above scrutiny.

The Mexican center back was just as out of position as the rest of his back line on those plays and others, inciting murmurs from critics that Marquez isn't rising to the expectations thrust upon a pricey designated player and looks uncomfortable since returning from the hamstring injury he endured during the Gold Cup finale.

If Marquez wants to restore his reputation, he can start by keeping the dynamic Benny Feilhaber at bay. The Revs attacking midfielder did not appear in the first leg of their regular season encounters with the Red Bulls due to international duty with the U.S. Men's National Team, but he'll be there on Saturday looking to create chaos in the box and replace the attacking contributions of injured Revs forward Rajko Lekic.

Keeping Feilhaber in check will involve active marking and frequent communication -- the two things Marquez and his back line were accused of failing to do against the Fire last Saturday.

The Big Hurt. Lekic's availability remains in question as he recovers from a fractured big toe on his right foot, but he's not the only one hurting for the Revs. Cochrane left Wednesday's match with what was described as "concussion symptoms" and will likely miss Saturday's match.

Meanwhile, Bouna Coundoul is expected to get the start in net for the Red Bulls in place of the injured Frank Rost. Jan Gunnar Solli will also miss Saturday's match as he recovers from a right quadriceps strain.

87. That's how many shots on goal taken by the Revs this season, which is the worst total in the league. They also score on a paltry 9.6% of their shots and 29.9% of all shots on goal, which ranks them 11th in MLS in both categories. This is not a recipe for attacking soccer.

Lucky Number Seven. New York's win over the Revs in June ended a seven-game winless streak. The Red Bulls now head into this weekend's matchup in Gillette Stadium with another seven-game winless streak in tow not counting the club's Emirates Cup appearances.

W2W4: NY Red Bulls at Portland Timbers

June, 19, 2011
The Red Bulls run for the Rose City on Sunday evening as they kick off an 11-day, three-game road trip against the expansion Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field.

New York will look to continue their winning ways after collecting a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution nine days ago at Red Bull Arena. Thierry Henry played a pivotal role on both Red Bulls goals, as Henry scored the game-winner in the second half and also shot the ball that deflected off Revs defender Ryan Cochrane into the wrong net for an own goal.

Portland brings a three-game losing streak into Sunday's contest -- or four, if you include a friendly loss to AFC Ajax on May 25 -- after dropping a 1-0 result to the Colorado Rapids on June 11. The Timbers saw defender Futty Danso leave the pitch on a stretcher before Rapids defender Drew Moor finished a rebound in the penalty area during stoppage time.

Philadelphia lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, leaving the Red Bulls tied with the Union atop the Eastern Conference with 22 points. However, the Union's 6-4-4 record is one win better than New York's 5-2-7 resume.

Into the Woods. Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal recently described the Red Bulls supporters' groups as "some of the craziest fans in New York," citing their passionate performances in the South Ward during every home game.

The NY supporters always make their presence felt, but they didn't make SportsCenter for their rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. In their short MLS tenure, the Timbers Army helped create a reputation for Jeld-Wen Field as one of the rowdiest places to play in all of the league.

While the likes of Henry and former Tottenham midfielder Teemu Tainio should be familiar with such a European match atmosphere, the same can't be said for a make shift Red Bulls back line built of MLS career backs Carlos Mendes and Stephen Keel. If they can't keep their composure, the Timbers could make them pay dearly.

Key Matchup: NY's Defense v. Portland's Set Pieces. The Timbers love the set piece, with 10 of their 15 goals scored in 13 games this season culminating from the dead ball. And while Red Bulls 'keeper Greg Sutton has stopped two penalty kicks in as many weeks, NY's troubles with defending against the set piece are well documented in 2011.

While Timbers coach John Spencer -- who is suspended for Sunday's match due to his recent remarks about the refereeing -- rounded up many players capable of handling free kick duties, midfielder Jack Jewsbury tends to figure the most prominently in the role.

Without the set piece, Portland tends to find themselves competing against the run of play. The Red Bulls will need to flawlessly execute their zonal marking system when defending against the set piece, but they may find better success by being more judicious with their challenges.

Turf Warfare. Sunday's match in Portland marks the second time this season that the Red Bulls played on FieldTurf. While that should keep the ball moving on the pitch, the same can't be said for Tainio, Luke Rodgers, Joel Lindpere, and others with lingering injuries.

With a short period to recuperate before visiting the Seattle Sounders on Thursday, Red Bulls coach Hans Backe will likely take great care to protect the health of the squad still diminished by Gold Cup call-ups.

Laying the Golden Egg. Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario returned to the Red Bulls last week after his Canadian side was eliminated from the Gold Cup. He should help lighten the offensive load carried by Henry and Rodgers over the past few weeks.

But De Ro's return may not have the biggest Gold Cup implications on the match. Before New York kicks off Sunday evening, they will know the result of the quarterfinal match between the United States and Jamaica. A US loss means Backe will have forward Juan Agudelo and defender Tim Ream back in the rotation, while a defeat for the Reggae Boyz means midfielder Dane Richards should return this week.

Depending on the US-Jamaica result, Backe may play his lineup differently to account for the depth at his disposal. He might let Henry play all out if Agudelo will be available Thursday, or might rely more on a midfield that will get a boost from Richards's return.

East Coast Bias. Three of the five Timbers wins at home have come against Eastern Conference teams. Only D.C. United left Portland with a positive result by collecting the first-ever win for an away team at Jeld-Wen Field on May 29.

Portland's 5-6-2 record may leave them mired in eighth place out west, but those 17 points would be good enough for a fifth-place tie with DC in the East. Considering that the majority of those wins came against teams chasing the Red Bulls, New York might as well consider Sunday's tilt as a conference clash.

RBNY Recap: Red Bulls 2, Revolution 1

June, 10, 2011
As right back Ryan Cochrane unfortunately proved, the best Red Bulls offense can be the Revs' defense.

New York can finally describe its recent winless streak in the past tense after collecting a 2-1 victory on Friday evening over the struggling New England Revolution. While the Revs opened the scoring in the first half, they did so for the wrong side as Cochrane deflected a Thierry Henry shot into the wrong net for an own goal.

Henry added an insurance goal in the 50' minute by dribbling past Cochrane on the right side and tapping a low shot inside the far post past Revs 'keeper Matt Reis. NE forward Zak Boggs answered Henry's goal moments later by picking up a Chris Tierney cross just to the right of the six-yard-box and shooting it to the left of a diving Greg Sutton for the Revs' only goal.

The win gives New York a 5-2-7 record and a one-point lead over the Philadelphia Union for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Union kick off on Saturday afternoon at home against Real Salt Lake.

It's How You Play the Game. New York managed an 11-point edge over the Revs on possession (55.8%-to-44.2%) and appeared to find the passing touch that gave opposing defenses fits earlier this season.

Despite that progress, the Red Bulls still struggled to provide sufficient service to the forwards up top and endured a great deal of pressure in the second half after New England reverted to a very-productive 4-4-2 formation.

The numbers will demonstrate how New York held on for the win, but Red Bulls coach Hans Backe should further emphasize cohesion on the pitch to convert the failed conversions of Friday's match into strong finishes going forward.

Play of the Game: Sutton's PK Save. Referee Terry Vaughn awarded the Revs with a penalty kick in the 33' minute after Red Bulls rookie defender Stephen Keel received a yellow card for bringing down Revs forward Rajko Lekic in the box. Revs midfielder and longtime RBNY pest Shalrie Joseph stepped up to the spot for the PK and aimed low and to the right -- and right into a diving Sutton.

Though the Revs only mustered four shots on target against NY, Sutton's save precluded his side from conceding yet another early lead and playing catch up. It notably changed the tempo on the pitch and the enthusiasm from the stands, which may have contributed to the flurry which resulted in Cochrane's own goal less than four minutes later.

If Sutton misses Joseph's kick, the headline involves the Red Bulls' troubles with dead balls. Instead, the headline involves Sutton putting his mark on the first Red Bulls win since April with a highlight reel save.

Maintaining the Middle Ground. The midfield duo of Joel Lindpere and Teemu Tainio dictated the pace for the Red Bulls on both ends of the ball. It just did not do enough to counter the inconsistent run of form that held back Mehdi Ballouchy and Austin da Luz.

Ballouchy's questionable touches on the ball culminated with his failure to redirect a pinpoint cross from Henry in the penalty box towards a wide open net in the 76' minute. Da Luz did not have so prominent a miss, but frequently struggled with his passing decisions and often put too much touch on the ball to the detriment of the Red Bulls' attack.

Shiny, Happy People. The announced attendance of 21,201 actually resembled the fans in the stands rather than approximation of tickets sold. The Red Bulls have seen the turnstiles spin a great deal lately, which has started to create a more energetic, soccer-friendly atmosphere at Red Bull Arena. It was a fitting sendoff as New York departs for a four-game road trip.

Change at the Top. Shortly before first kick, the Red Bulls announced that longtime NBA executive Chris Heck will join the organization as the club's President of Business Operations. Heck will replace Erik Stover, who is stepping down from the post after serving in the role since May 2008. Stover has overseen exponential growth in sponsorships and season ticket sales for New York and is often credited with playing a vital role in the Red Bulls' recruitment of Thierry Henry from Europe.

The Red Bulls will get their first glimpse of raucous JELD-WEN Field as they take the pitch against the expansion Portland Timbers on Father's Day. First kick is schedule for 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 19.